In a discussion on religion the other night, it came up that often Christianity is a problem for people because it goes against our basic natures.
This is certainly true. Christianity often challenges us to look beyond our own wants and needs. To seek after the care of the poor, to put neighbors ahead of ourselves. And for some that is troubling. And many take this to heart, helping people, putting others ahead of themselves. Whether it is strangers, friends or family. Religion can be very positive this way.
And yet, it is not really proof that your religion is real. It is simply proof that you have taken tenants to heart and act them out. Again, a good thing. But people will make serious and life altering decisions that go against selfish motives for almost any belief system.
It has been said that the heart cannot embrace what the mind rejects. And that is true. Whatever your mind is willing to believe, your heart will embrace, wheter it is true or not. Herb Applewhite’s message was one of rejecting the world, living humble, communal lives, shunning sexual desire. Herb convinced his followers that following his teachings would fulfill an emptyness in their lives. Once, their minds opened up to the message, their hearts embraced it. And some of his followers felt the best option in dealing with their urges was to castrate themselves.
In the end, Herb convinced his followers that the should take their own lives, so that they could meet an alien ship in the sky, trailing behind the Hale-Bop comet. Willing castration and suicide.
A willingness to go against your self interests is not proof that your faith is true. If that were the case, pretty much all religions and cults are right. As people are willing to do crazy things for something once they accept it as true.